Happy 3rd Birthday, Aria


I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aria.

Dear Aria,

Happy 3rd birthday!

We celebrated your birthday during a weekend camping retreat with our church community, with your requested dessert, cake and berries. Now, in your parlance, “I FREE! I not a baby, I a toddlah.” You have said that to friends, family, and strangers in the grocery store.

It seems like everywhere you go, you find magical moments that delight you. You are our unicorn child, spreading infectious joy around you. You hear songs, and exclaim, “Oh, I LOVE this song!” even though you haven’t heard it before. You meet a new person, and immediately call them your friend. You tell knock-knock jokes that don’t make any sense at all, yet still manage to make people burst out laughing.

You have so many things that you love. Puzzles, picking out books at the library, playing at the park, getting chased by our dog, splashing in the waves at the beach, and dancing to Michael Jackson songs.

Sometimes you run too fast and fall right onto your face. But what’s childhood without a few bloody noses and scraped knees? Keep running. I love your wild, free spirit.

My favorite thing to do with you is to give you tight squeezy hugs, kiss your chubby toddlah cheeks, and soak in the moment that I already know I’ll miss when it’s gone.

There is a special place in my heart for you, my daughter.

I love you a whole lot.



Be Prepared With An Emergency Supplies Kit – What and How to Pack


A few weeks ago, residents in Hawaii were alerted to a ballistic missile threat, and ordered to seek immediate shelter. Fortunately, it ended up being a false alarm. Whoops! Just kidding! Hooray!

Emerging from this experienced caused me to confront the reality that our family needed to be better prepared for emergencies. Even if a ballistic missile never comes our way, we still live in a place where hurricanes and tsunami warnings are an annual seasonal occurrence. Based on those possible emergencies, I decided we needed to prepare to survive on our own with no electricity and running water for two weeks.

I made sure our house is stocked with water, food, and other supplies that will last us for at least 14 days. At one gallon of water per person per day, that is a lot of water! Thankfully we have a garage where we can store most of that stuff.

In terms of food, we have a variety of non-perishable food, including:

  • Canned goods
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Freeze dried meals – This stuff has a really long shelf life (20-30 years), is very portable, and just needs water to make a meal. We have meals from Mountain House and Augason Farms. I researched options for a while, and decided on these brands that were highly recommended.

Additionally, I put together two emergency kits – one large bin to keep in the garage, and one backpack to keep in our van.

I happened to post a photo of our emergency bin on Instagram and Facebook, and received a bunch of requests from friends to share my emergency supplies lists. Apparently I wasn’t the only one feeling underprepared for emergencies. So I decided to put together a post on how to pack an emergency kit of basic disaster supplies. This was a large task that took me hours of research and planning – but I’m sharing it with you so you can be prepared as well.

My list fits the needs of our family of five plus a dog living in Hawaii. You will need to consider your unique needs, and adjust your emergency supplies accordingly. Think about your family’s needs, and also the most likely emergency scenarios in your geographic area.

We had lots of these items stored in random places in our garage or drawers, but had to buy a few things. Now everything is in one easy-to-find place.

This list includes what I packed in the bin for home, what I packed in the grab-and-go backpack, and what other essential things to grab in an emergency, such as our wallets and cell phones.

Emergency Supplies Kit

Print this list

Store supplies in a plastic bin that is easy to carry, and won’t get water damaged, like these Sterlite bins. For a grab-and-go bag, use a sturdy backpack or duffle bag. Print out your inventory list, and keep a copy in your bin so you know what you packed, and date it with the date of when it was put together. Maintain your bin by replacing expired items as needed, such as food, medicine, and batteries. Assess your supplies once a year, and update your kit depending on your changing needs.

What’s in the bin:

What’s in the grab-and-go bag:

  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Cash in small denominations
  • Radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Multitool
  • Important documents in waterproof folder – identification, birth certificates, etc.
  • Food
  • Water
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sanitary wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Duct tape
  • Poncho
  • Carabiner clips
  • Mylar thermal blanket
  • Matches
  • Bungee cords and rope
  • Tarp
  • Travel towel
  • Pencil, pen, and notebook

Additional supplies to grab in emergency:

  • Wallets
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Keys for house and cars
  • Folder of important documents
  • Non-perishable food and water (in garage and storage closet)
  • Sleeping bag or blanket for each person
  • Prescription medication
  • Extra clothes and shoes
  • Pet food and dishes for dog
  • Grab-and-go bag (in car)
  • Camping stove, propane, and pot
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Wrench to turn off utilities

For more resources on emergency preparedness, visit ready.gov.

Let me know what else you’d add to your list!

Reflections On 2017

Happy New Year (1)

Happy new year, everyone! And welcome to 2018.

Near the end of the year, I take time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, step back a take a deeper look, and embrace the coming of a new year. Here are my reflections from 2016.

1. What was the best thing that happened this year?

Our family had many adventures with God in ministry. It was a year filled with risk-taking, powerful moments, and loving people. Along with a team of friends, we started a faith community in our house that has been a place of so much life and joy.

2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?

Adjusting to new life rhythms. I had a hard time figuring out how to allot my time, especially with rest, exercise, and writing.

3. What was an unexpected joy?

Finding our beautiful house. This was a journey that began in fall of 2016, when Steve and I were praying, and sensed God telling us to move to Kapolei, a city in West Oahu. After twists, turns, miracles, and lots of seeking God, we were able to buy a home. It is in Kapolei, perfectly suited for our family and hosting gatherings. It feels very much like where God intends us to be right now.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

A need for friendship. I need more depth in relationship with peers, and have felt a lacking in that area of life.

5. Pick three words to describe 2017.

Messy. Presence. Planting.

6. What were the best books you read this year?

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish – For any bread-bakers out there, this is a great book that teaches you principles and methods of baking naturally leavened bread.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – This was such a powerful, haunting read. At times beautiful and painful, it stuck with me all year more than other books I read.

Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton – I’ve been slowly digesting the life wisdom within this book. Barton has long been a favorite author of mine. She writes with authority about the road to spiritual formation, and in a way that actually leads her readers into the transformation they are seeking.

7. What did you do in 2017 that you’ve never done before?

This year I committed to the practice of asking God, “What are you doing right now, and how do you want me to partner with you?” I asked, I listened, and more often than not, I sensed God speaking. This simple interaction with God has shaped me so deeply. I’ve become more expectant in mundane daily moments that God might show up in a powerful way. I’ve had a deepening conviction that God is active and alive. I’ve flexed new listening and faith muscles.

8. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I suppose the practice I described in #7 could be considered my new year’s resolution for 2017. Sometime early last year, I committed to asking God the question, ” What are you doing right now, and how to you want me to partner with you?” Also in 2017, I had the goals of planting a thriving faith community (which we’re continuing to do), start a gathering for artists and creatives (which I did), and buy a home on Oahu (which we did). I’d say I kept my resolutions from last year.

For 2018, I am going to do the following:

  • Exercise 3-4 times a week.
  • Meet with a spiritual director monthly.
  • Invest in a few primary peer friendships.
  • Do the Life Reflection once a week.

Speaking of resolutions, I wrote this post last year on my Spiritual Journey blog, 6 Reflection Questions to Help You Live Out Your Purpose. Reading through it again today helped me consider my goals for this new year.

9. For what are you most grateful?

I am grateful for a deepening relationship with God that is dynamic, alive, and ever-evolving.

10. How did you change this year?

I say yes more. Yes to God, yes to others, yes to my own soul, yes to opportunities that feel scary.

11. What moments were most memorable?

Moving into our new house. Getting our puppy, Pono. Meeting several people who are now part of our faith community. Reconciliation with a friend, where I received grace and forgiveness.

12. What were your greatest discoveries?

  • These fabulous bedsheets. Game changer.
  • The joy of baking naturally leavened bread.
  • I’m more of a dog person than I thought.
  • Having a community that comes together in pain and celebration is a beautiful part of life.
  • Times of solitude and quiet are precious to me.

13. What are you looking forward to this coming year?

I am looking forward to stewarding myself, my time, and my resources with faith and fruitfulness.

14. What was the most significant thing you learned this year?

I’m in need of grace again and again.